Urgent Appeal for Fukushima!
Urgent Appeal from Touhoku HELP, Sendai, JapanVon: Victor Hsu [firstname.lastname@example.org]
June 28, 2012
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death......surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23
Dear Ecumenical Friends,
I greet you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Giver of Life and the Hope of our world.
You have recently received an urgent appeal from Rev. Shoko Aminaka, the General Secretary of NCC-Japan to provide emergency assistance to Touhoku HELP.
I join her in appealing for your sustained solidarity with the people of Japan as the country continue to grapple with the immense challenges of recovery and reconstruction from the triple disaster of March 11 last year. I do so because of your generosity in the immediate aftermath of that terrible day as the tsunami destroyed and killed everything in its path in the Touhoku region leaving in its wake untold suffering among the people of Japan.
I give thanks to God for you and for your faithfulness because, during this darkest hour in their recent history, you lit a light in the life of the people of Japan. You walked with them through the valley of death and you comforted them.
Dear brothers and sisters, you are aware of the enormous needs that exist for the nation's relief and reconstruction. Moreover, the churches and the people of Japan struggle for a national consensus about its energy policy. According to experts, it will take at least two decades to accomplish these monumental tasks. As you monitor future developments in Japan, please do not forget the survivors and their families. Most survivors have been moved from evacuation centers to temporary housing. Unfortunately, they have no clear idea from their government officials whether and when they will return to their homes or how they can recover their livelihood.
Consequently, you will undoubtedly be deeply saddened by an increasing number of suicides among them. You know that the trauma that they experienced will take years to heal. However, for many, their existential situation appears bleak and hopeless. One counselor reminded the humanitarian workers in Japan that "the living may envy the dead." Indeed, we grieve with them.
Several of the agencies have supported the "Grand House" project of Touhoku HELP in Sendai. The largest NGO on the ground in Touhoku, it was established by the Sendai Christian Alliance to carry out disaster response. The Grand House project combined immediate direct material assistance with spiritual care. It distributed basic needs to the evacuees and initiated innovative spiritual care activities through mobile counseling "cafés," radio programs and special community lectures, all aimed at providing practical assistance and support to the survivors and their families. You will be interested to learn that the New York based Japan Society has allocated US$ 100,000 to continue the counseling activities through mobile cafés and radio programs.
Several aspects of the Touhoku HELP activities will be of special interest to you. I want to share these with you to encourage you to provide urgent immediate support because Touhoku HELP will run out of funds at the end of this month. If Touhoku HELP closes down, it would be a tremendous loss for these reasons:
First and foremost, the survivors and their families would be denied of the many services provided by Touhoku HELP such as food radiation measurement and special assistance to non-Japanese residents. There will be a huge void in meeting the many needs of the survivors.
The food radiation measurement and assistance to non-Japanese residents are unique among the humanitarian community.
Touhoku HELP has attracted many supporters from within Japan. It has raised a considerable amount of funds from within Japan and continues to expand its funding base nationally. It is the vehicle for the people of Japan and the evangelical and "mainline" churches to partner with international agencies in a ministry of compassion.
Many NGOs and volunteer organizations are leaving the scene for a variety of reasons. It is therefore essential for Touhoku HELP to continue to serve the survivors on the ground.
Tohouku HELP is the largest network that is on the ground. Unlike most organizations or NGOs it caters to both material needs and spiritual care.
Some of you will have received, some time back, an email from NCCJ's moderator, Rev. Kobashi, asking for financial support for a brand new initiative in Japan, namely, an Enhanced Curriculum for Clinical Ministerial Education. This would not have been possible without Touhoku HELP which conceptualized the idea and developed a pilot curriculum to be offered at the university level.
In providing spiritual care, it collaborates with the Buddhists and Shintoists. This is crucial in a country where the Christian community is very tiny, with less than 2% of the population. This interfaith dimension helps non-Christians to come to appreciate the Christian faith in a unique and powerful way.
Even though Touhoku HELP is established by the Sendai Christian Alliance, it enjoys the endorsement of the Japan Evangelical Alliance. Supporting Touhoku HELP broadens the ecumenical network for possible future collaboration between the NCCJ and the JEA. It strengthens Christian presence in Japan where the Christians are a tiny minority with very fragile institutions. But more importantly, such collaboration gives visible witness to the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Please consider continued solidarity with us in whatever way that you deem appropriate. The survivors of the triple disaster in Touhoku have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. They face an uncertain future with little hope of reclaiming their livelihood. May I invite you to make it possible for them to declare that "surely goodness and mercy will follow me and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" I pray that you will support the ministry of compassion of Touhoku HELP. If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to contact me.
To expedite your action, kindly send your financial contribution to:
Account Name: Touhoku Diakonia c/o Naoya Kawakami
Account # 7950926
Bank Name: The 77 Bank, Ltd.
Swift Code: BOSSJPJT
Bank Code: 012
With deep appreciation for your faithful partnership,
Professor Victor W. C. Hsu
Director of International Aid and Education
Adjunct Advisor on North Korea
School of Public Policy and Management
Korea Development Institute
Hoegiro 87, Dongdaemun-gu,
Seoul 130-868, Korea